from Siblings

Genuine rubber balloons are for sale
at Reeds Bookstorea luxury during war.
Mother waits in line to buy her quota,
ties them, helium-filled, to our bedposts.

This memory and the photograph
of us at bedtime kneeling
in one-piece, footed pj’s.
And the flap of my pajama bottom
droopy like Mother’s coin purse,
while yours is taut
over your plump buttocks
like the skin of those rare balloons.

* * *

You invite the neighborhood kids,
“Come to my little school.”
They come by twos and threes,
leaving their trikes and sandboxes
to sit in a circle of chairs.

Outside the halo of that play
I throw a tantrum when I learn
you’ve given away my favorite doll
to one your best scholars.

What if Mother could take back
the care she lavished on my misery,
apportion some of it to you
years later when, away at school,
you turned up pregnant?
There was no one then to say
“Come home to the circle of chairs,
O lovely one, and be our teacher.”

Venus and Other Lossess, Plain View Press, 2010